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For the Atlanta Braves, an unexpected reunion with a former closer could give them the back-to-back championship seasons the city desires.
The Atlanta Braves just reached the pinnacle of success, but in every offseason, teams do what they can to bolster their roster.
The Braves are no different as they strive to keep Freddie Freeman on the team, among others. But there are valuable free agents and trading options that could be a great fit in Atlanta, especially one who has a history there. Despite their strength in multiple areas, the Braves need to strengthen their bullpen and switch up their rotation — and this former Brave might be the closer to get it done.
Craig Kimbrel could be the perfect solution to Braves bullpen issues
Unfortunately, Kimbrel is not a free agent that can be swooned with a recent ring and a hefty contract: he is currently pitching for the Chicago White Sox, who just traded for him at last season’s summer trade deadline.
But remarkably, Kimbrel is already on the trading block as of this offseason — or he was, before the lockout began, at least. No discourse has occurred between teams and players, so with nothing changing on the White Sox roster, Kimbrel is likely still up for grabs, which plays well for the Braves.
Currently, the Braves have Will Smith as their closer, but he could be inconsistent in the biggest moments. Keeping Smith at closer was considered a “fireable offense“, and that was back in September.
Smith did have seven shutout innings during their pennant race, but the issues evidenced in September could be helped by having Kimbrel in the bullpen. If nothing else, Smith could be motivated to keep his position — and if he falters, the Braves will have another option at closer.
Back in the day, Kimbrel made three All-Star Games as an Atlanta Braves. If he can do what he did 10 years ago, the Braves have an even better shot at staying on top.